Storylines is ready for a trip deep down to Texas and a reunion with the Houston Dynamo, of many meetings past and a shared great goalscorer or two in the clubs’ past. How can Minnesota maintain their strongest run of form this season at PNC Stadium on Saturday?
As any preview of a Houston-Minnesota contest since 2020 will note, Darwin Quintero looms large in these matchups, and their first game of 2022 is no exception. Quintero is tied for Houston’s season lead with seven goals to his name, and stopping him (as Minnesota and Adrian Heath surely know well from Quintero’s time in black and blue) is a key objective in securing points on the road in Texas. Quintero, after back-to-back games with goals against Portland and Chicago in late June, is now scoreless in his last four games, although he did notch an assist on Houston’s game-winning goal in San Jose on Sunday. Five of Houston’s six wins this season have come in games in which Quintero found the back of the net, so his impact is hard to overstate.
It feels like almost every edition of Storylines comes with a section focused on 2022 MLS All-Star Emanuel Reynoso, and for Minnesota this season, that feels entirely justified. Reynoso continued his career-defining scoring stretch with both goals on Saturday against DC United (and a bonus penalty in 20 minutes of work against Everton of the English Premier League), and is arguably in the hottest individual form of any player in all of MLS. To emphasize a point from First Touches yesterday, Reynoso’s nine goals this season nearly match his entire goal-scoring output for the rest of his professional career (2016-2021) in a quarter of the minutes and games. His three braces in the last five games beat his five goals in the entirety of the 2021 MLS season, across 29 games. This is both something we’ve never seen from Reynoso, and yet something that feels entirely in character for Minnesota’s attacking talisman, who defined their 2020 playoff run with his assists rather than his goals.
The matchup between Houston and Minnesota, historically, has been defined by who gets to play at home. Prior to the 2021 season, every single matchup between the clubs that had a non-draw result (six of a possible ten) had been won by the home team, including a stretch of six straight home wins between late 2017 and September 2020. However, 2021 created a change in that Minnesota not only won for the first time in Houston’s PNC Stadium, but took a clean sweep of the clubs’ three matches in August and September of that year. The Loons outscored the Dynamo 6-1 between the three games, with Houston’s one goal coming in their one home match of the three. Robin Lod was Houston’s chief torturer in the games at Allianz Field, with a goal in each Minnesota win (with due respect to Adrien Hunou, with both goals in Houston, and Ethan Finlay, with a goal and two assists). Could Houston be the ticket to Lod’s first goal since returning from national team duty with Finland?
Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United FC
PNC Stadium | Houston, TX
Saturday, July 23 | MLS Regular Season - Game #22
7:30 pm CT (MLS LIVE on ESPN+, Bally Sports North EXTRA, The CW - Twin Cities, 1500 ESPN)